With the global economy in a state of crisis, online sales have taken a hit… but not for everyone.
In fact, it's predicted that ecommerce sales will increase as more people self-isolate to hinder the spread of the virus.
Now, more than ever, it’s important that you’re providing your customers with an optimized on-site experience so your business can endure (and even thrive) in an economic downturn.
This is especially true because the majority of your competitors are cutting budgets, instead of preparing a bounce-back plan for how they’ll thrive once the economy picks back up.
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If you want to continue driving business growth in an economic slowdown, you need to make sure your website is optimized to effectively convert the traffic that you’re paying for, ensuring a positive return on investment.
In this blog post we’ll be focusing on why now is the best time to start thinking about optimization for your ecommerce site, and how that will ensure you are set up to thrive as the economy comes roaring back. We’ll outline a simple plan that any online business can use to get a jumpstart on elevating their site’s user experience and improving conversion rates.
Focus on identifying specific goals and objectives
Of course your primary objective in a declining economy is to retain your customer base and remain profitable. But outlining specific website goals will play an important role in guiding the tests you’ll implement throughout your optimization plan. What are the key metrics your business would benefit the most from improving?
These are the objectives we’d recommend focusing on during a recession:
Improve customer retention. For a majority of ecommerce businesses, an economic recession will mean it’ll be harder to get more visitors to reach your site. Leaning on your existing customer base is essential if you want to continue driving business growth through the next several months. Focus on connecting with current customers and being as helpful as possible. Email and SMS text will be your friend here.
Elevate your on-site experience. Visitors are coming to your site for 1 of 2 reasons: 1) To research a product, or 2) to buy a product. Anything that gets in the way of those two things will hurt your conversions. Focus on eliminating any potential friction points in your user experience through user testing and closely monitoring your site analytics for drop-off points.
Grow your email list. Now is the time to focus on building your email list to effectively combat cart abandonment and stay connected with your customer base. Come up with a non-discount incentive to encourage more sign-ups, and take advantage of cart abandonment emails to help recapture lost sales.
Avoid tone-deaf messaging. Now is not the time to be hard-selling your products with tone-deaf copy. Focus your messaging around being a helpful resource to customers. Now is the time to build goodwill with your target audience so when the economy starts to improve in the near future, your brand is top-of-mind for consumers.
Aligning on your business goals before jumping into an optimization program sets you up for success and will ensure you get more impactful results in the long-term.
Explore your website analytics and start user testing
After you’ve outlined specific goals for your optimization plan, it’s time to start digging into your website analytics to identify potential friction points on your site.
Start by tracking and understanding your site’s user engagement data. There are a variety of tools available to help you do this at minimal to no expense (Google Analytics and HotJar are two of our favorites).
Let your website goals determine where your analysis begins. If your focus is on decreasing cart abandonment, look into what pages of your site consistently have the highest bounce rate and identify why that is. This is where user testing becomes extremely helpful…
Invite someone who fits your ideal customer profile to walk through your website and talk out loud about what they’re thinking and experiencing. Prompt them at the start to complete a specific action and observe how easy (or difficult) it is for the user to complete that action. Experiencing your site through the eyes of a new customer will give you a much clearer picture of what needs to be changed or optimized.
There are a variety of user testing tools available that can make this a lot more manageable for you, especially if you don’t have the time or resources to do it on your own. And these user tests can easily be completed over Zoom, Skype, or many other virtual meeting tools.
Avoid leaning on discounts to drive sales
During times of economic slowdown, of course, consumers adopt stricter budgeting habits and reduce their overall spending. When sales drop, businesses can often panic by cutting costs and marking down their entire store to help offset the declining demand for their products.
If you get stuck in a cycle of discounting to sustain your business through an economic downturn, you’ll always be seen as a discount brand to your audience. It might be hard to avoid the temptation to slash prices now, but it’ll only lead you to more problems further down the line.
Rather than relying on discounting to drive revenue, focus on keeping your loyal customers close, as they’ll remain your stable source of cash flow throughout the next several months. Focus your marketing spend around retaining loyal customers and providing them with the best customer experience possible.
Now is the time to differentiate necessary spending from wasteful spending.
Don’t let times of economic slowdown hinder your business growth. The last thing you should be doing is leaning heavily on discounts to help keep your brand afloat. Instead, look at the next several months as time your business can use to focus on improving your on-site experience and building goodwill with your target audience. It’ll benefit you in the long-run.
Following these steps will help your brand survive – and even thrive – through the next several months. If you’re interested in receiving some additional assistance to improve your on-site customer experience, check out The Good’s Conversion Growth Assessment™. The assessment is designed for online brands that are seeking quick, actionable recommendations for how to increase conversions on their site.
This article originally appeared in the Privy blog and has been published here with permission.